Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

July 19, 1951

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

I have no announcements to make this morning. I will try to answer questions.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, does this Government have any evidence that Russia has achieved an atomic explosion since the first announcement in 1949? 1


1For the President's statement of September 23, 1949, announcing the first atomic explosion in the U.S.S.R., see 1949 volume, this series, Item 216.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, some time ago, Mon Wallgren announced that he was going to retire as head of the Federal Power Commission. He has not retired, and I wonder if he is staying at your urging?

THE PRESIDENT. He had some business that had to be wound up in which he was familiar with all the evidence, and he is waiting until that business is wound up, before he leaves.

Q. Mr. President, in connection with that related subject, the Federal Power Commission last week decided in the Phillips Petroleum case in a fashion which seems to overrule the Truman veto of the Kerr bill.2 I wondered if that had come to your attention ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it has not. I don't think it has any connection whatever.

2 On April 15, 1950, the President vetoed H.R. 1758, a bill to amend the Natural Gas Act of 1938, because the bill would limit the authority of the Federal Power Commission to regulate sales of natural gas to interstate pipe line companies (see 1950 volume, this series, Item 88). In the Phillips Petroleum Co. case, the Federal Power Commission decided that Phillips was not a "natural gas company" within the meaning of the Natural Gas Act, and was therefore not subject to FPC jurisdiction.

Q. Mr. President, were you aware of the decision?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I am aware of the decision.

Q. Can't hear, sir--can't hear.

THE PRESIDENT. He wanted to know if I was aware of the decision of the Federal Power Commission. I told him, yes, I am aware of it. The Federal Power Commission had all the evidence and decided the thing on the evidence, as far as I know. That is what it is for.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, the State Department recently said that you would shortly issue a proclamation required under an amendment to the reciprocal trade acts, barring some Russian and Chinese furs. Is that proclamation imminent?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't seen it. 3

3 The State Department release, dated July 6, 1951, is published in the Department of State Bulletin, volume 25, p. 95. On August 1, the President signed Proclamation 2935 (3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 121), dealing with trade restrictions on furs from the U.S.S.R. and Communist China.

[4.] Q. Mr. President--


Q. --there seems to be some slight confusion out your home county way, about who is going to spend the $25 million? 5

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will take care of that when we get around to it, Duke. I haven't yet heard from the Governor of Missouri that he needs any of it, and I can't operate until I do hear. As soon as I get the thing lined up, why you will be informed exactly how it is going to be handled.

4 Duke Shoop of the Kansas City Star.

5 On July 18 the President approved H.J. Res. 292 (Public Law 80, 82d Cong.; 65 Stat. 123), providing $25 million for disaster relief. The funds were to be used to help in the recovery of the flood-stricken Middle West.

Q. Can't ask him any more?

THE PRESIDENT. It will be under my control, you will be sure of that. Why, if it is necessary--we will have to wait and see what developments are. We don't know yet what is required. That is what that survey was for the other day.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, you told me last week, sir, that I put some words in your mouth about this question about General Eisenhower--

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q.--in which I said that you had told us once about taking Ike at his word, that he wouldn't ever run. Well, what I had in mind, Mr. President, was at a press conference on December 22, 1949,6 you were asked this question: Do you feel sure that he--Ike, that is--is not a candidate for 1952 as he was not in 1948? You said yes, that Ike had said so, that his word was good with you.

THE PRESIDENT. That was--I probably quoted a conversation I had with Ike when we were discussing his appointment as commander in chief of the NATO setup. I haven't talked politics with Ike since 1949, so I don't know what his attitude is now. I notice he answered your question as to which party he belonged. [Laughter]

6 See 1949 volume, this series, Item 269 [9].

Q. What I had in mind, Mr. President, does that stand, that you--you feel sure that he will not be a candidate?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't--I can't speak for him, because I haven't discussed the matter with him at all. If ever I discuss the matter with him and he tells me what he is going to do, then I will rely on it, because his word is good.

Q. Mr. President, I believe you have the last word in saying whether Ike does resign--he does decide to be a candidate for president?

THE PRESIDENT. I couldn't hear you?

Q. You have the last word--he has to get your permission, as I understand it, to resign from NATO, if he decides to run for President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we will cross that river when we get to it.

Q. Would you say whether you would be inclined to permit him to resign?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that question when Ike asks me for permission.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, there are reports from Madrid that Admiral Sherman is about to reach an agreement with Spain on our using certain bases there. Yesterday Secretary Acheson spoke very forthrightly about the military importance of Spain to us.7 Has our policy toward Spain changed ?

THE PRESIDENT. To some extent.

7 On July 16, Adm. Forrest P. Sherman, Chief of Naval Operations, met with Generalissimo Francisco Franco, Spanish Chief of State, to discuss Spain's possible role in the defense of Western Europe. Secretary of State Dean Acheson's statement regarding the conversation, made at his press conference on July 18, was published in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 25, p. 170).

Q. To what extent, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we haven't decided yet. These are preliminary conversations, to find out just what the situation is with regard to our necessity, and what Spain is willing to do. I think Mr. Acheson covered the thing very completely yesterday.

Q. This is not the result of any National Security Council decision ?

THE PRESIDENT. It is the result of the advice from the Department of Defense.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, there is a move on foot to turn the key of the Bastille, now hanging out in Mount Vernon, to the people of France on the anniversary of Yorktown. Have you any comment ?

THE PRESIDENT. The key to the Bastille belonged to George Washington. That is private property, and the Government has nothing to do with it.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, what do you think of Senator Douglas polling the Chicago Bar Association 8--

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't been officially notified about it, and besides, the bar association doesn't make my appointments. I think I told you that once before.

8Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois opposed two nominations by the President to district judgeships in that State, citing the constitutional theory requiring the advice and consent of the Senate for judicial appointments, and stating that his own recommendations had been ignored and that he had not been consulted about the President's nominations. Senator Douglas thereupon asked the Chicago Bar Association to conduct an advisory poll regarding his recommendations and the President's. Polls were also taken by the Illinois Bar Association and the Chicago Sun-Times. On October 9, the Senate rejected the President's nominations (Congressional Record, vol. 97, P. 12838).

Q. You didn't tell me. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I told the press conference, let's put it that way. [More laughter] The Constitution still provides that I make the appointments.

[9.] Q. Would you say, sir, whether you expect any early decision one way or the other in the Kaesong talks ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can make no comment on that.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, several public officials, including at least one Congressman in my area, have accused General Marshall 9 of conspiring to overthrow this Government, and to aid the Communists. I thought comment from you might be helpful?

THE PRESIDENT. That is one of the silliest things I ever heard. And I don't think that it helps the welfare of this Nation to have people, who are supposed to be responsible for its welfare, making silly statements like that.

9secretary of Defense George C. Marshall.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, can you say what progress, if any, has been made by Mr. Harriman 10 at Tehran?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I have not heard from Mr. Harriman direct.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

10W. Averell Harriman, the President's representative in Iran to discuss the Anglo-Iranian oil dispute (see Items 150, 155).

Note: President Truman's two hundred and seventy-first news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 19, 1951.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230439

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